Storytime: sexual assault is a big fucking deal

This wasn’t the post I had planned for today, but… it’s been a day, and I’m having some feelings.

I don’t generally talk about politics here. I think I’ve alluded to my affiliations, but ultimately that doesn’t matter today.

What does matter is that there’s a man in the midst of confirmation proceedings for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the US who’s been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct.

There are other problems with this nominee: just from today’s testimony, he’s proven that he’s an extremely emotional and partisan person, neither of which bodes well for his ability to put aside personal feelings and party affiliation when deciding cases. The only things that should determine Supreme Court rulings are the Constitution and established case law. Watching him scream and literally cry about conspiracies perpetrated by the Clintons and Democrats makes me question his stability and his connection to reality. It does explain why he was nominated though. Trump does like a performance.

He’s also demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the few female Senators on the Judiciary Committee. It’s not terribly difficult for me to imagine him doing the things that he’s been accused of; if he doesn’t like being challenged by powerful women in public, what kind of reaction would he have to being rejected by one in private?

I’m deeply disturbed by the events of today and the things that are being said about Kavanaugh’s accusers. So many people of all genders have questioned Dr. Ford’s motives and why she didn’t come forward sooner. They talk about ruining this man’s life while attempting to discredit, insult, abuse, and even kill her with zero sense of irony. He risks losing a job he really wants while she’s getting death threats. Is it really that hard to understand why she’s stayed quiet? She’s literally risking her life to make sure he doesn’t gain any more power and influence that might allow him to do this to other women.

The most appalling part is that there are women saying that this isn’t a big deal. Women who don’t think that it should disqualify him from getting this job. Women who think she should just get over it because it’s just something that men do. Boys will be boys and whatnot.

This hits so close to home. The first time I encountered this mentality I was very young, no more than 5, and I was at my grandparents’ house playing with my sister and some of my cousins. My sister and I were the only girls in the family with a bunch of boy cousins. We were all playing with the (super awesome 80s version) Little People bus and farm, and one of my cousins decided that he wanted to play with the things that I was playing with, so he hit me and took my toys. I got pissed, hit him back, and resumed playing with the toys I’d originally had. I’m a year or so older than he is, but he was bigger so I remember feeling like we were evenly matched, but the minute I took my toys back he started to scream. My mom and grandma came running, and when I told them what happened my grandmother admonished me for standing up for myself. She told me that it’s not ladylike to fight. She then picked up the toy I was playing with and gave it to my cousin while my mom fumed. They never got along, but my grandmother’s deferential and preferential treatment of the men in her life enraged my mother. Many years later I found out that my grandmother literally said “Boys will be boys” when my mom berated her for the bullshit lesson she was attempting to teach me about gender roles, respect, entitlement, on and on.

I understand that she’s from an older generation and this is what was drilled into women’ heads, but the result of her not teaching her sons, and later her grandsons, to respect women resulted in divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse. These men hate women, or at the very least completely disregard the contribution of women to their lives. The worst thing one of these men could be called is a woman. Women are emotional, irrational, weak, usually dumb and definitely bad at sports. It’s not difficult to see the correlation between this kind of mentality and sexual assault.

I don’t actually want to get into my history of sexual assault, but it’s happened since I sprouted boobs 25 years ago. Every class, every job, every party, at least one thing happened. It has impacted my relationships, mental health, body image, self-confidence, education, career, ability to trust men and overall sense of self-worth. That’s a lot of shit, and this is after many years of therapy, medication, and a short time-out in the psych ward. Nothing happened to the men who did these things to me. Two of them lost their jobs; one was fired but still allowed to come into the store to harass, follow and catcall me. Yes, management knew about this, but since they thought he might spend some money they didn’t ever ask him to leave. Who cares about the safety of a teenage girl (yes, I was 17 and this was my first job) when there’s money to be made?  The other guy was a few years later in my first corporate job (I think I was 22); he was also fired, but my boss and one of the other (middle-aged male) executives helped him get a job with a company that we routinely contracted work through. He was doing the same job, for the same pay, and was still in my building frequently. Every time he showed up my two work “brothers” would barricade themselves in my office with me until he left. This happened weekly for years because he was good at his job and supposedly didn’t deserve to lose his livelihood just for being a little too friendly with one of the office girls. So he got to walk around telling everyone what a filthy slut I was while I was locked in my office crying and having what I later realized were panic attacks.

So now I’m in my mid-30s. I don’t like going places alone. I definitely don’t walk anywhere by myself. When Dan and I go to parties where I don’t know many people I stay as close to him or one of his sisters as possible. If I’m out in the world alone and a man I don’t know approaches me, I start looking for exits or witnesses before he gets too close to me or even speaks. I’m always hyper-aware of my surroundings. I still have flashbacks. I still have nightmares. I browbeat my nieces and nephews about things like consent and respect. My life would be very different if I’d been spared these experiences or if the men I’d come in contact with were taught to respect women and not be disgusting entitled assholes.

So, those are my feelings and experiences. They’re not things I normally talk about, and many of the people in my life don’t even know that these things ever happened. It’s not easy to get over the shame and stigma, but sex crimes are the only ones where the shame lies with the victim and not the perpetrator, and that needs to change. Believe victims, regardless of who’s being accused, unless they give you a reason not to.

Excuse me while I sleep for the next 12 hours to try and erase this day.

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5 Comments

  1. alwayscleia
    Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was shocked to realize how many people I know personally and online have their own #metoo stories. I was 18 when mine happened. I went on, lived my life and didn’t let it scar me but when I look back I get so angry that I was too young and too stupid to do anything about it.

    I hope that the future generations continue to change mentalities and attitudes so that one day nobody has to have their own story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      At this point, I’m more surprised when the women I know don’t have #metoo stories, or just have one. It’s so disturbingly prevalent. I’m positive that future generations will continue to make progress with all manner of social ills. We’ve come a long way, even since my first experience (I was 12, but I’m not ready to talk about that one yet), but we still have a long, long way to go.

      Like

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  2. Exploding Nova
    Permalink

    You know I could go on about this, but I want to keep it short & sweet and just say, great job. This is so true. Unfortunately, so often while we are being raised (or doing the raising) we are too focused on telling a girl how she should be and literally LETTING boys be boys. It’s really sad how situations that were fun (albeit reckless) for men (& sometimes women) can have such lasting negative impacts on our lives. I spent the entire day watching the hearing… hours. Then halfway thru Kavanaugh (I know I didn’t spell that right) giving his opening statement, I was done. I listened to a woman for hours, while talking about a life changing assault, still make subtle excuses for the man. “He was extremely drunk…. pinballing down the stairs…afraid he would ACCIDENTALLY kill me….” smh. I cried multiple times for her and what she’s going through, that far too many of us are familiar with. It just made me angry hearing him say how this has ruined his life while this woman’s has been ruined since she was around 16 years old because of him. It truly affects so many aspects of what should be normal, everyday life. Damn. It’s early, and I’m getting in my feelings. I said I wouldn’t make this long, but hey…. Great post Teresa, my social media sister. 🤗😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Teresa
      Permalink

      I couldn’t even watch it. Just knowing that she was sitting there in front of a tribunal of old dudes who didn’t believe her and wanted to make her look as terrible as possible made me super emotional and angry and all of the other feelings I’m sure you had too. And him… I can’t even. The reason he doesn’t remember is because, for him, it was just another night. Yeah, he’s had a rough couple days. This has literally impacted her entire adult life.

      Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing your experience on one of my other posts. Visibility matters, and we matter. 💚💚🤗

      Like

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